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A Software-only Mechanism for Device Passthrough and Sharing

by   Piyus Kedia, et al.

Network processing elements in virtual machines, also known as Network Function Virtualization (NFV) often face CPU bottlenecks at the virtualization interface. Even highly optimized paravirtual device interfaces fall short of the throughput requirements of modern devices. Passthrough devices, together with SR-IOV support for multiple device virtual functions (VF) and IOMMU support, mitigate this problem somewhat, by allowing a VM to directly control a device partition bypassing the virtualization stack. However, device passthrough requires high-end (expensive and power-hungry) hardware, places scalability limits on consolidation ratios, and does not support efficient switching between multiple VMs on the same host. We present a paravirtual interface that securely exposes an I/O device directly to the guest OS running inside the VM, and yet allows that device to be securely shared among multiple VMs and the host. Compared to the best-known paravirtualization interfaces, our paravirtual interface supports up to 2x higher throughput, and is closer in performance to device passthrough. Unlike device passthrough however, we do not require SR-IOV or IOMMU support, and allow fine-grained dynamic resource allocation, significantly higher consolidation ratios, and seamless VM migration. Our security mechanism is based on a novel approach called dynamic binary opcode subtraction.


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